Friday, 14 September 2018 | PNS | New Delhi–
CCTV footage can prove they talked for 15-20 mins, I’ll quit politics if I’m wrong, says Punia
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday demanded resignation of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, accusing him of “colluding with the criminal” and allowing him to escape from the country.
Rahul sought the FM’s resignation on the back of a claim made by his party MP PL Punia that he saw Jaitley and Mallya together in the Central Hall of Parliament on March 1, 2016, as the duo held an elaborate 15-20 minute discussion.
On Wednesday, Jaitley had rubbished Mallya’s claim that he met Jaitley in Parliament where he had offered to settle his bank dues. Jaitley said he never gave any appointment to Mallya, but the liquor baron accosted him on one occasion in Parliament and offered to make some settlement with the banks, which he (Jaitley) refused to entertain. The FM claimed there was no further talks between them.
The Congress president also attacked the Modi Government on the way the CBI lookout circular (LOC) notice against Mallya was diluted, allowing him to leave the country.
“Who changed the lookout notice for Mr Vijay Mallya from ‘detain’ to just ‘inform’? It can only be someone who controls the CBI,” Rahul tweeted.
After Jaitley’s prompt rebuttal of Mallya’s claim of the purported meeting, Punia spiced up the controversy by insisting he had seen Jaitley and Mallya talking animatedly in the Central Hall of Parliament, for first few minutes standing and then continuing their discussion sitting face to face.
“On March 3, we heard from the media that he (Mallya) fled the country on March 2. I have clearly stated about this in each of my interview with the media. There are CCTV cameras, we can all see that for proof. If I am wrong, I will resign from politics,” Punia claimed.
Latching on to Punia’s claim, Rahul challenged Jaitley to get CCTV footage of March 1. “Mr Jaitley is lying, the Government is lying on Rafale and the Government is lying on Vijay Mallya. A meeting was held with Mr Arun Jaitley and Vijay Mallya. The logistics of Mr Mallya leaving the country were discussed in that meeting,” Rahul told reporters.
“Mr Vijay Mallya was given free passage out of the country by the Finance Minister, who has clearly said the criminal told him that he is going to run away. Well, why did you let him run away? Why did you not stop him? Because you were colluding with him,” he added.
Describing it as an “open and shut case of collusion”, he said there was some deal between Jaitley and Mallya and called for the Finance Minister’s resignation.
Asked whether the Congress would move a privilege motion, he said the party would do what it could. However, Jaitley has to first explain why he did not act when told that Mallya was going to “run away to London”, Rahul said.
He also sought to know what transpired at Jaitley’s “extended meeting” with the “gentleman in Parliament House”. The Congress has also gone on offensive against dilution of the LOC.
Apart from Rahul, several other Congress leaders kept raising the well-publicised issue during the day in an attempt to corner the Modi Government.
On October 16, 2015, the CBI probing allegations of financial fraud against Mallya, issued a lookout notice asking for Mallya’s detention at the airport if he tried to leave India.
However, on November 24, 2015 the CBI diluted the LOC, dropped the detention part, and said the Bureau of Immigration should only inform the probe agency if the liquor baron tried to leave the country.
Since then the CBI has claimed that the detention part was dropped because Mallya was cooperating with the probe and there was no apprehension of his fleeing the country.
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